Category Archives: 2016

Formula One: CONFIRMED – Red Bull TAG Heuer with Ilmor support

RBR
From the milliseconds that separate victory from defeat to the finely balanced and perfectly measured rhythm of a racing engine, in motorsport timing is everything.
As the curtain falls on the 2015 Formula One season and the sport gears up for next year’s challenge, the timing is right for Red Bull Racing to reveal that the team’s 2016 F1 car will race with a power unit carrying the name of motorsport’s most iconic timing brand – TAG Heuer.
The new partnership, which represents a shift away from F1’s conventional supply systems, will see TAG Heuer take up naming rights of the team’s power unit, which will be supplied by Renault. The new car will be christened the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12.
Deepening the relationship between the team and the legendary timing house, which can call on more than half a century of heritage at the cutting edge of motorsport, TAG Heuer will become the Official Timekeeper, Official Watch Partner and Team Performance Partner of the Red Bull Racing team from 2016 in a multi-year partnership.
Welcoming the new partnership, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, said: “TAG Heuer and Red Bull are two transcendent brands which have both a passion for racing and a drive to do things differently, and this unique collaboration is further evidence of that. TAG Heuer has been an icon in the world of Formula One for many years and we’re delighted that they’ve chosen to continue their association with the sport by teaming up with us. Our shared values of innovation and a desire to stand out from the crowd make this one of the most exciting partnerships in F1. We are also pleased to see Renault confirm its long-term commitment to F1 and would like to thank them for their contribution to the team since 2007. Their technical partnership with Ilmor gives us confidence, and we look forward to the 2016 season.”
Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the LVMH Watch Division, added: “Formula One is deeply-rooted in TAG Heuer’s DNA, and Red Bull Racing is a young, dynamic and driven team, which perfectly fits with our marketing strategy. It will give TAG Heuer great visibility and allow us to make our partnership exciting, different and innovative. Our motto #DontCrackUnderPressure will be the guiding principle behind all our actions with the support of the Red Bull Racing team and its highly contagious enthusiasm.”

Formula One: Pirelli Confirm 2016 Tyre Regulations

Pirelli

After its meeting in Paris, yesterday, the FIA World Motor Sport Council formally approved the new 2016 Tyre Regulations for Formula One.

NEW REGULATIONS

  • The new regulations will apply only to the slick tyres. The rules regarding intermediate and wet tyres remain unchanged.
  • With the introduction of the new ultrasoft compound (which uses purplemarkings) the total number of slick compounds rises to five.

PRE-RACE TYRE NOMINATIONS AND PREPARATIONS

  • In consultation with the FIA, Pirelli will decide in advance which three compounds can be used at each race, and communicate this information to the teams.
  • The total number of sets that can be used during practice, qualifying and racing remains the same as it is currently: 13.
  • Pirelli will nominate two mandatory race sets for each car. Furthermore, one set of the softer compound will have to be kept for use in Q3 only.
  • The two mandatory sets chosen by Pirelli can be of two different compounds, from the three that have been nominated for the race weekend. These sets will obviously be identical for each team.
  • The remaining 10 sets can be chosen by each team, from the three compounds nominated for the race weekend.
  • The teams will make their choices within a deadline set by Pirelli. They will communicate their choices to the FIA, which will in turn tell Pirelli how many tyres to produce. The choices for each car will remain secret until 2 weeks before the race. If a team does not meet the deadline, the choice will be made by the FIA.
  • Once the choices for each car have been made, the FIA will continue to assign the tyres randomly via a barcode, as is the case currently.
  • The choices made by each team can vary for each of its cars: so each driver within a team can have a different allocation.
  • The tyres will be distinguished by different coloured markings on the sidewalls, as is currently the case.

DURING THE RACE

  • Teams will still have to give back tyres according to a certain schedule, but they can decide which tyres to give back at the following times:

–       One set after the first 40 minutes of FP1
–       One set at the end of FP1
–       Two sets at the end of FP2
–       Two sets at the end of FP3

  • The two mandatory sets nominated by Pirelli cannot be given back during practice and must be available for use in the race. At least one of these two setsmust be used during the race – but the teams can decide which one.

The top 10 at the end of qualifying will still have to give back the set of the softer compound nominated for Q3, and start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest time in Q2 (the same rule as is the case currently). All other drivers will be able to use the set that is saved for Q3 during the race.

Formula One: Power Unit Development Freedom

pu106a_hybrid_01.jpg

The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) have reaffirmed commitments to the existing Formula One Power Unit regulations through a refresh in the development timeline manufacturers are required to work within.

Through the 2016 season existing manufactures will have the freedom to implement changes impacting up to 50% of the Power Unit solution.  A further 40% update will be available in 2017, 30% in 2018, and 24% in 2019. Whilst regulations were already in place around Power Unit developments from 2016-2019, changes announced during the WMSC meeting represent a significant increase in development freedom for engine manufacturers.  These changes should enable manufacturers such as Renault and Honda to address performance issues relative to Mercedes and Ferrari.

With current Power Unit technology exceeding performance figures from both the V8 and V10 era of the sport, this additional scope for development coupled with further technical regulations changes surrounding vehicle dynamics for 2017, the publically stated performance improvement targets of 4-5 seconds per lap appear to be well within the capabilities of teams.

Other than to stating Power Unit development as ‘in season’,at this time it has not been made clear how the manufacturer’s upgrades will be applied. However with the WMSC also approving Scuderia Ferrari’s request to supply an unnamed team (likely Scuderia Toro Rosso) with 2015 Power Unit configuration it can be expected ‘works’ and ‘customer’ teams will again run different iterations of Power Unit design through a season.

Any new manufacturers entering the sport through the 2016-2019 will have freedom to update up to 24% of the Power Unit design in year 1 and 50% in year 2 subsequent to their entry to the sport.

The final caveat to Power Unit upgrade regulations is that the WMSC have mandated FIA President, Jean Todt and the Representative of the Commercial Rights Holder, Bernie Ecclestone to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula One such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction. Mr Todt and Mr Ecclestone expressed their intention to establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016. These conclusions could shape the direction of future Power Unit Developments.

Formula One: GP2 transformation approved

GP2F2

In the FIA World Motorsport Council meeting, held today in Paris, approval has been granted to the President to formalise the contract between the FIA and GP2 promoter to establish the FIA Formula 2 Championship.

This mover will complete the FIA’s single seater pyramid from Karting through the Formula One. The WMSC minutes do not reference a timeline to support the transformation, but 2016 is likely.

Any changes around the GP3 series have not been referenced.

F2 will likely maintain current GP2 technical regulations and retain it’s support race place in 10 rounds of the F1 championship.

Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore are the promoters and owners of the GP2 / GP3 series  (incidentally they partners also hold the rights to the GP1 name) . Both series are powered by Mecachrome engines, branded as Renault in the GP2 series. Mecachrome are one of the manufacturers participating in the FIA’s recent request for an expression of interest in alternative engine supply within F1. It is possible this engine design could play a part in future engine development plans for F2.

Formula One: Mclaren top the time sheets in Abu Dhabi

MclarenAbuDhabi

McLaren’s driver Stoffel Vandoorne set fastest time today at the end of the 12-hour tyre test organised by Pirelli on the smooth surface of the Yas Marina circuit.
The session took place non-stop throughout the day, with the expected bright sun and warm temperatures starting out at around 24°C ambient (35°C asphalt) and reaching 28° and 40° respectively by lunchtime.

The session started with all the drivers running some laps on base tyre to confirm the set-up of the cars and using P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Yellow soft tyres: the nominated choice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.

Testing with the prototype tyres (new ultrasoft compound and new constructions both front and rear) started around one and a half hours into the session. The Teams tested several different potential variations of the new ultrasoft compound, from which one will eventually be selected.
Prototype tyres were not marked with any colours or other visible markings, while base tyres carried the usual colours on sidewalls.

The test was ‘blind’: neither the drivers nor the Teams knew which kind of tyre specification they were testing. During the test, the teams were not allowed to try new parts or change any other components, keeping the focus on the tyres. With its smooth surface, consistent temperatures, and wide variety of technical corners, Abu Dhabi was a perfect venue in which to assess most key aspects of tyre behaviour.

The session started at 9am local time and went on till nearly 9pm with no lunch break. This made it the longest single-day Formula One group test in the sport’s history.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We had one shot when it came to testing tyres for next season, and we can be satisfied by what we’ve achieved in this test, even if we have to fully analyze the data. We’ve tested different versions of the new ultrasoft compound for 2016, which was one of the targets for this session. The ultrasoft’s target for 2016 is to introduce a compound softer than the supersoft and mainly designed as agressive choice for street circuits: with better performance than the latest version of the supersoft tyre and faster degradation, in order to allow the Teams to take a more aggressive approach to race strategy.

Whether this will produce more pit stops, or any difference in strategies, it’s too early to say for now. We will fully analyse our data and team telemetry once we get back to base. But it seems we are heading in the right direction: the ultrasoft is expected to offer more possibilities for certain races.

We also tested some different constructions for both front and rear tyres.

Fastest times of the day:
Driver Team Time Laps
Vandoorne McLaren 1m44.103s 99
Raikkonen Ferrari 1m44.456s 56
Ericsson Sauber 1m44.480s 50
J. Palmer Lotus 1m44.568s 90
Vettel Ferrari 1m44.940s 56
Wehrlein Mercedes 1m45.605s 107
Ricciardo Red Bull 1m45.805s 57
Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m45.849s 54
Hulkenberg Force India 1m45.852s 71
Bottas Williams 1m45.940s 103
Kvyat Red Bull 1m46.309s 48
Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 1m46.995s 56
Fong Sauber 1m48.439s 57
Celis Jr Force India 1m48.545s 65
Haryanto Manor 1m49.593s 56
King Manor 1m49.661s 59

For reference the times set during this session are comparable to those set in FP1 during the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, during which only Mercedes set faster lap times. At this time it is not clear to what extent the tyres may have improved laptimes, or if a “cliff” with the ultrasoft compound has been identified.

 

Formula One: Opinion – Formula Finances

AbuDhabiSFI

As teams prepare for the final qualifying session of the season, what started as murmurs around teams requesting advances on 2015 prize money from Formula One Management (FOM) is heading towards a deafening crescendo with Manor Marussia, Sahara Force India, and  the Sauber F1 team reportedly making requesting support.

The distribution model under which teams are allocated and receive prize funds was established a number of years ago. The model has not changed. The distribution model splits prize fund payments to the team through the season following the season in which the funding was earned. Once a paying position is achieved (i.e. higher than 10th place in the WCC) the team are assured payment for multiple seasons.  Payments are only made in season.

It is the payment structure teams appear to struggle with. Since requests have been lodged it should be assumed the teams in question have insufficient funding or credit rating in place to sustain team plans from December to March.  The Force India F1 Team found themselves in a similar situation in the lead up to the 2015 season, commenting that ‘close season’ is the most expensive period for a team and the only period when they as not getting paid through prize funds or commercial agreements.

Formula One Teams are companies in their own right; they are independent of Formula One. They are masters of their own destiny. They develop their own commercial agreements, agree to the terms of funding distribution models, and should be empowered to budget accordingly. Teams find themselves in a predicament of funding shortfalls in the ‘off season’ because they have made decisions to spend money they, in reality, did not have. A complaint Bernie Ecclestone has often publically voiced.

If a team is not capable of planning capital expenditure over a rolling 12 month period do they really deserve to represent the pinnacle of motorsport?

Perhaps it is cynical to view Formula One teams in this regard, to suggest they should operate as first and foremost as a business, perhaps it would diminish from the racing spirt, but would a more calculated approach to racing really be such a bad thing? To achieve a level of sustained security as to which teams are on the grid and what their position is within the sport may make investment a more attractive proposition.

Looking back to early part of 2015, the financial challenges faced by the Force India team were clear for all to see, the team failed to attend the majority of pre-season testing stating the car they would begin the season with was essentially the 2014 challenger updated to comply with 2015 safety regulations. This hybrid 2014/2015 car was the result of severe budget restrictions limiting payments to 3rd party suppliers. Working to a limited budget the team used this car for the first 8 races of the year, developing the 2015 challenger once prize funding and sponsorship revenue came back to the team. Through these first 8 races, the team amassed 31 points, an average of 3.8 points per race. Once the team were able to introduce the 2015 challenger they achieved a further 89 points over 10 races, (average 8.9 per race) the culmination of these 2 vehicles have left  Force India with 120 points heading into Abu Dhabi, with 5th place in the constructors championship assured.

But what if they had taken a different route? Had the team stuck with hybrid 2014/15 challenger for the entire season and for the sake of argument maintained their points scoring ratio of 3.8 per race they would be heading into Abu Dhabi with 70 points battling with Lotus and Toro Rosso for the 5th they have already secured. Had the introduced the non-budget constrained 2015 challenger from Melbourne and assuming a the afore mentioned average of 8.9 points per race they could have been looking at a total point’s tally of 160 points, but still be in 5th place with an outside chance of achieving 4th against Red Bull Racing.

This simplistic maths ignores the variable points tally other teams would have been able to achieve had Force India’s performances differed from those actually seen, but the point is in both scenarios the possible outcomes in terms of constructor championship performance  do not differ greatly if at all.

The very fact that Force India are again requesting  early payment of prize funds ahead of the 2016 season suggests the team went the wrong way, the desire to race, to compete, overtook the business rationale, perhaps this is what racing is all about, but is it sustainable? Force India over achieved through apparently over spending and are now reliant on external influences to assure 2016 plans.  This is not a criticism of any specific team, rather an observation of the culture of racing.

Across business the way in which a Formula One Pit Crew services a car in under 3 seconds is often cited as the epitome of teamwork, individuals working together towards a common goal. These lessons in teamwork have changed the business world. Perhaps the world of business can give something back to Formula One, and teach teams that a budget is something you work within, not something you take to Bernie when the numbers turn red.

Formula One: Alfonso joins Sahara Force India

Alfonso Celis
Sahara Force India have announced the signing of Mexican racer, Alfonso Celis, as a development driver. The 19-year-old will get his first experience of Formula One power behind the wheel of the VJM08 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi test – sharing driving duties with Nico Hulkenberg.
Alfonso is one of the most promising young Mexicans emerging from the junior formulas. Following karting success in Mexico, he moved to Europe in 2013 to compete in the Formula Renault NEC championship, and progressed to the GP3 Series last year. This year he raced for ART in GP3 in parallel to a World Series by Renault programme with AVF.
In his development role with Sahara Force India, Alfonso will spend time on the simulator at the team’s Silverstone factory. He will also take part in seven official practice sessions at Grand Prix events during the 2016 season.
Alfonso Celis: “Ever since I started racing I’ve been dreaming of Formula One, so it’s a huge honour to begin working with Sahara Force India. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to learn about Formula One and to work closely with the engineers and race drivers. Being on the track in Abu Dhabi will be an incredible feeling. It’s going to be the biggest moment in my career and I am fully focussed on doing a good job for the team.”
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “I would like to welcome Alfonso to the team and wish him well ahead of his debut with us in Abu Dhabi. As our development driver we will work hard to prepare him for the demands of driving in Formula One and provide a good grounding in all aspects of the job. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Alfonso to learn from Sergio and Nico, and to get valuable mileage in the car.”

Formula One: Ferrari Experimenting?

GP BRASILE F1/2015

With the 2015 drivers and constructor championship positions confirmed team’s technical departments have shifted focus to the 2016 season, seeking to understand which areas of development they can expect to see most gains.

Free Practice One in Brazil saw Mercedes trialling positioning and sizing of an S duct system similar in thinking to the F duct pioneered by Mclaren in 2012. The system is designed to stall aero around the car at certain times to increase overall speed trap performance. The trial of this system is plain for all to see with both cars sprouting additional openings along the nose cone of the car.

Less clear are the experimental developments with Ferrari, ignoring the huge rake seen on the rear right end of Kim’s car in the early phase of FP1. Since Austin both Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel appear to have had issues under braking and in deployment of power, with both drivers suffering uncharacteristic spins or race ending accidents. These incidents have been put down to driver error, but the growing frequency of these incidents, most recently seen in Free Practice with Kimi Räikkönen suggest something there could be more to these incident than meets the eye.

Ferrari throughout the 2014 season was known to struggle with consistent harvesting and deployment of ERS (Energy Recovery System) power.  On the face of it this issues appears to have been resolved in 2015, but could an evolution of this harvesting system be causing the drivers new issues? As with any new technology the scope for development of the system must be significant, perhaps Ferrari have found a new direction with harvesting of energy. Could an evolution ot the team’s ERS  be what brings Ferrari into true championship contention in 2016?

The extent of Ferrari’s experimentation led may observers to believe the team had lost their way in the build-up for today’s race, but in qualifying 3rd and 4th on the grid it seems more likely the team have a clear understanding of exactly how to maximise the performance of the SF15-T and have switched attention to the 2016 challenger in free practice sessions. Sebastian Vettel’s experiences in 2013, when Red Bull Racing continued to develop their dominant machine until the final race of the year arguably severely impacting the team’s performance in 2014 may be influencing Ferrari’s current focus.

Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen struggling under braking into turn 4 or through acceleration out of turn 12 in today’s race would suggest continued evaluation or developments with the teams energy recovery harvesting and deployment systems.